Whether it's a day trip or an overnight, here are three road trip tips ( say that three times fast) and essentials to ensure a great ride.
Make sure your pup has been acclimated to the car!
Some dogs find the car incredibly stressful and anxiety provoking.
If your pup hasn't spent much time in the car other than a trip or two to the vet (which can be anxiety provoking on its own), desensitizing them slowly and creating positive associations with the car is the way to go. The AKC has a great step-by-step playbook here.
Some dogs—especially puppies—can get car sick.
Make sure you feed your pup a few hours before hitting the road. Bringing a favorite toy to distract them, cracking a window with fresh air, and seating them closer to the front can all help alleviate the nausea. Car sickness is usually related to either stress and anxiety or inner ear disturbances (more frequently found in puppies whose parts of the inner ear related to balance aren't fully developed). Bach Flower Essence, CBD, or Go Patch can all help alleviate the stress and nausea and the inner ear disturbance should hopefully resolve itself by the time the puppy is a year old.
Keep them safe and secure
I know the vision of your dog's ears flying in the breeze on the open road screams freedom, but please keep your dog safe and secure in the car with a seat belt or a crate. I was once driving behind a car that had a small dog with its head out the window and right before my eyes that pup jumped. It was terrifying enough to see her dangling from the side of the car, but had she not had the seat belt secured tightly to the harness (never attach to a collar) she would have most likely been run over by oncoming traffic. The well meaning owner had not secured the belt tight enough (which is why she was able to jump in the first place) but he noticed right away and slowed the car to rescue her.
Beyond the potential for your dog to jump out of a moving vehicle, in the case of an accident your dog could be thrown around the vehicle, potentially causing incredible harm to himself or anyone else in the car. And of course, just in general, a free-roaming dog can cause a distraction to the driver.
What to pack:
Travel bowls for food and water
Towel and blanket
Enrichment toy and favorite stuffed animal and/or ball
Food and water, even for a day trip
Leash and harness
Pet First Aid Kit - I always carry one in the car for emergencies
Travel Tote helps keep things simple and organized
Make sure ID tags are up to date
You and your dog both need potty breaks and to stretch your legs, so try and make time for one every three or so hours.
Make sure destination is dog friendly, and check for any restrictions!